Brazilian animation studio PenGuin Content is getting into the licensing and merchandising game with a new division that will manage the prodco’s brands, with eventual plans to handle third-party IPs.
An initial team of 11 people will deal with the licensing, promotion and marketing of PenGuin’s (formerly PinGuim) catalogue of animated kid content. The new division will also be charged with product development, meet and greets, live shows and special events involving the studio’s characters.
PenGuin’s CP arm has already launched the live event Surfing with Earth to Luna! (pictured), where characters from its show Earth to Luna! give surfing lessons to kids on Brazil’s beaches.
Having more say in what merchandise looks like, being able to produce products faster and knowing its brands are jumping on all available licensing and merchandising opps, were the primary drivers for PenGuin’s dive into L&M, says co-founder Celia Catunda.
“We’ve had our brands represented by licensing agencies for 10 years, and sometimes we would have to wait three months or more just to hear back from them on designs for new products,” she says. “Or we’d miss opportunities to get new products released for events because the agency’s are handling 20 IPs. Now we can just call up our division and we can get busy producing new products right away.”
As PenGuin starts handling its own properties, the studio will take what it learned from working with agencies to determine its roll-out strategies, Catunda adds. “In Brazil our market is made up of many small players. There are no big Walmarts or chains where all the CP is sold, but hundreds of small stores. Because we know the market, and have made connections with people over the years, we can now reach people other companies can’t.”
What’s more, bringing the team in house will help the company maintain stronger control over the look and feel of the toys and merchandising, she says. “Agencies have changed the colors of old toys and called them new products. We don’t want that to happen anymore,” says Catunda. “We want to be able to capture the spirit of our properties with new toys that are relevant to our changing brands.”
In the immediate future, the company wants to start developing and producing new toys and books for the upcoming sixth season of the space-themed Earth to Luna!, which will hit shelves early 2020. As the team grows, it will also begin handling PenGuin’s other animated series Fishtronaut and Ping and Friends.
While the current focus is on building out its own roster of brands on shelves, longer-term Catunda hopes to bring in some educational preschool brands.
Opening the new division comes after Netflix picked up Earth to Luna! and made the series globally available (excluding Latin America), in January 2018. PenGuin’s flagship series (104 x 12 minutes) is aimed at ages four to seven and airs in close to 100 countries. It has been picked up by multiple international broadcasters in the last year, including TG4 (Ireland), Ceska Television (Czech Rebublic) and Discovery Kids MENA.